Arlington County manager Barbara Donnellan will ask elected officials Saturday to allow her to set $3 million aside in a reserve fund in case massive federal government cuts kick in this winter as a result of budget sequestration.
Donnellan called the prospect of such cuts “serious, but manageable,” partly because Arlington doesn’t receive much direct federal money, although about 60,000 Defense-related jobs are based in the county and many more privately employed federal contractors, associations and lobbying firms call it home.
If the budget cuts happen, Donnellan said, Arlington’s growth rate would probably stall, but not reverse.
“We’ve been through 9/11 and for months after, this wasn’t a really popular place to come to,” she said. “Our second hit was the [Base Realignment and Closure] cuts, and we got hit worse than anywhere else in the country. We also lost the Patent and Trademark Office,” which relocated to Alexandria.
If a lot of federal jobs are cut, that would be bad news for the county, she continued, but added: “As a local government, you have to be flexible. We’ve weathered a number of these things. It’s almost like planning for a disaster, and we’re getting better at it.”